I was at a concert as a college freshman. It was a free concert on our campus commons and the artist was Charlie Hall. He was a Christian singer with some radio play but I hadn’t heard of him at the time. But hey, it was a free concert. But there was a moment during all of it that stands out more than 10 years later. He read from a book called the Valley of Vision, which is a collection of puritan prayers, and it kind of changed my whole world.
It is amazing how a moment changes you. Even the most mundane, inauspicious moments just mix everything up in your head. For me it was hearing a beautifully crafted prayer…
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.
I began that day to think of the upside down way of God’s Kingdom. Of the paradoxes that face the Christian worldview. That to be low is to be high. That repentance leads to victory, And brokenness leads to healing.
I think about how a God above all would become man. How that man would live a humble life and die a sinner’s death. And I am reminded that low, in the kingdom of God, is high.
What does this have to do with LOVE?
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
-1 John 2:5-6
So if my goal is for the LOVE of God to be complete in me I must live as Jesus did. And the paradox of the Kingdom was unveiled in the life of Christ. He lived it throughout his ministry, but if there was any doubt he made a clear cut example on his last night on earth. At the famed “last supper” Jesus bent down and began to wash the feet of his disciples. He washed each of them, even Judas, the man he knew was set to betray him. One by one the Lord performed this act of servitude.
This act of humility.
This act of LOVE.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
-John 13: 12-17
If I am to live complete in God’s LOVE then I must do as the teacher did. I must act as my Lord did. To serve. To humble myself.
Even as I write this I know how proud I am. I picture the awkwardness of serving. The discomfort. The unease.
How do I become the person that pushes through that into LOVE?
Spirit lead me.
Charlie Hall, turned out, did have some really good music also. He had this song that often gets in my head. It is a sweet LOVE song to God. And sometimes I just find myself brokenly singing it.
I crumble at Your kiss and grace
I’m a weakling in the dust
Teach me how to cling to You
With all my life and all my love
Father come to me, hold me up ’cause I can barely stand
My strength is gone and my breath is shot, I can’t reach out my hands
But my heart is set on a pilgrimage to heaven’s own bright King
So in faltering or victory I will always sing
And on the road to beautiful
My seasons always change
But my life is spent on loving You
To know You in Your power and pain
You’re my portion in this life
You’re my strength now in my fight
And to You I pledge my heart
In the pain and in the dark I’ll love You
I’ll love You, I’ll love You
I’ll love You…
Heavenly Father- I falter so much on the road to beautiful. Hold me up and help me to press on. I LOVE you. I need you to continue to shape me into beautiful. To teach me LOVE. To remind me of LOVE when I feel unloved or unloving. Thank you for the example of humility that you have set for me, for the paradox of your Kingdom, and the miracle of it all. Continue to mold me and make me a LOVER of you and of your creation.
Thank you Father, Spirit and Son.